Traditional radiation treatment with X-rays (called "external beam" therapy) is like trying to shoot something with a bazooka when you only need a scalpel. A more targeted type of radiotherapy is called "brachytherapy," which involves fighting the cancer from inside the body using radioactive chemicals implanted right in the tumor.
A new type of brachytherapy approved earlier this year now is being used to treat non-melanoma (basal cell and squamous cell) skin cancers. Instead of radioactive chemicals, it uses a tiny device and a robotic controller that emits the X-rays from inside the body. The system allows more precise targeting and shorter treatments, doesn't require an expensive shielded room, and is safer for patients, doctors, and the environment.
The new machine is made by Xoft and is called the Axxent Electronic Brachytherapy System. It certainly sounds promising, but unfortunately is currently only available at the University Of Wisconsin Riverview Cancer Center.